If I had to choose the person who I feel has been the most real, most honest and vulnerable of any of my guests, it would be Suzy, hands down. She is a three-time Olympian who has been diagnosed with ADHD, bi-polar, anxiety, and OCD. I admire her for being so brave and sharing all she has been through.

Suzy gives us an inside look at her struggles and successes with running and her mental health issues.

She looks back and tells us about her running life during school. While in the 5th grade, she discovered her running talent. Running was something that made her feel good. It was when she went to college that she realized she was talented enough to become an Olympian. She recalls how her first Olympics was the most thrilling of the three, and then how the pressure started. She mentions that knowing about her illnesses would have helped her to be able to enjoy her running career.

She recounts the men in her life who had the power to control her and her inability to stand up for herself. She recalls the sexual harassment she received from her college running coach about her body and breast size.

Looking back she says she would have done things differently. She would have had the courage and strength to stand up for herself and tell the coach what she needed.

Suzy talks about the ups and downs of her career. Bi-polar, ADHD, anxiety, and OCD are big parts of her story. She tells stories about how each of them affected her running career. She says that during the days of winning, championships led her to feel sky high, but she didn’t realize it was part of the manic side of the bi-polar. Her anxiety and panic attacks were so great that she fell on purpose in the 2000 Olympic final. She shares how she dealt with bi-polar, how it played a part in her becoming an escort in Las Vegas, how it affected her marriage, and how she is working through her issues.

Her advice to runners is to focus on the gift of running and maybe doing so will help with the anxiety and stress.

We discuss how running can be a negative addiction if it controls your life: taking us away from living, missing out on family life or special events. I hope we all can see and distinguish the fine line between being committed and being addicted.

Today’s interview is for you if you have bi-polar or any of the mental health issues Suzy talked about or if you want to help someone who has bi-polar. Suzy’s advice for you is to get help for yourself. As you get healthier, you will be able to help others.

Today’s Guest

Suzy Favor Hamilton

A three-time Olympian who has been diagnosed with ADHD, bi-polar, anxiety, and OCD. She advocates for mental health by doing public appearances and spreading the word.

What You Will Learn About

  • What is the importance of sharing family mental health history with your doctor before medication is prescribed.
  • Why it is good to talk to a sports psychologist.
  • Why balance and non-running activities in your life is important.
  • Why she trained for the 2004 Olympics even though she didn’t want to.
  • How to help a loved one who is struggling with a mental illness.
  • What the difference is between being committed to running and being addicted to running.

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Suzy’s #R4RPowerPose

Inspirational Quotes

Eating disorders aren’t about food, it’s about lack of control.

Eating disorders are a mental illness.

As runners, they realize they have an innate sense about how their body feels, but I don’t think they always have this sense about how their brain feels. We have to become more aware of that.

I really started to have the love hate relationship with running.

It hurt my running career, the brain not being healthy.

Running is so more than running a race.

Resources Mentioned

Last week’s interview with Sally Bergesen

Suzy’s website

Suzy’s book: Fast Girl

Mental Health America

Enter the Bodyhealth Christmas Giveaway

Thank you to my favorite recovery product BodyHealth for sponsoring this episode of Running for Real.

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Thanks for Listening! I hope you enjoyed today’s episode.

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Thank you to Suzy.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.

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2 Comments.

  • This was so powerful. I could relate to Suzy in some ways (perfectionism, people pleasing) and it was good to hear someone else discuss that. I appreciate that she opened up about her illness and experiences because that makes her human. I always appreciate Tina because she is such a great interviewer.

  • Fantastic episode. Really enjoying how you’re focusing on the “real” (and honest, candid, vulnerable) side of runners and running. That was one of my favorite aspects about now-canceled Runners World’s Human Race series (more about the human than the race). Keep up the great work.

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